Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Rusty Wallace Spices Up Tuesday on "NASCAR Now"

Rusty Wallace may feel like a kid again. Since ESPN moved Wallace out of the network's Lead Analyst position for NASCAR, it seems like the weight of the world has been lifted from his shoulders. The results have been fascinating.

The person now seen on programs like NASCAR Countdown, SportsCenter and on ESPNEWS is the same outspoken and opinionated Wallace that fans remember from his driving days. Love him or hate him, you knew where Rusty stood on an issue.

Tuesdays have been a big problem for NASCAR Now. While this week there was testing in-progress, the news from the previous weekend is now a bit old and the teams are several days away from turning a wheel in practice for the next race.

Luckily, ESPN may have found a solution to the Tuesday boredom. Enter Rusty Wallace with no one else on his stage. Talking one-on-one with host Ryan Burr, Wallace let his opinions fly on a wide variety of topics. From a "strictly TV" perspective, it was great.

After Jamie Little's report on testing from Phoenix and updating some news items, Burr introduced Wallace to react to the potential penalties on the Carl Edwards team. But first, Burr asked Wallace to help viewers understand how his team had the same type of penalty recently dismissed.

Wallace stated that his appeal was won because only the corner of the oil tank lid was warped. Then, Wallace continued to tell Burr that "he heard" the entire lid of the tank in Edwards car was "completely off." Calling it an "oversight," Wallace was clear in his opinion that this was not intentional. But, he was not done yet.

The Rusty of old came out when he said "I can assure you of one thing. That team did not mean to cheat. I hope they get a very small penalty." He wrapped-up his comments on the Edwards situation by saying simply, "I know this was a mistake."

Little appeared again from Phoenix and after her update on testing, Wallace was back. His frank talk about the agenda for testing and the specifics of Phoenix was solid. When Wallace is pumped-up he stays that way, and his energy on this program was great.

Moving to the safety issues about the inner track walls, Wallace played the diplomat. Saying that both NASCAR and the tracks share the responsibility of safety, Wallace brought up a specific example. Jeff Fuller's accident in Kentucky was used by Wallace as an example of a track reacting quickly to an incident. The backstretch walls were completely reconfigured to avoid the possibility of another such accident.

To make it clear, Wallace held-up a drawing showing the manner in which some tracks have off-set their backstretch walls to avoid such a problem. In poking fun at himself, Wallace started by saying "I am not so good at explaining things, so I drew you guys a picture."

After a timely interview with Mike Skinner and some news, Burr brought Wallace back again. This time the first subject was the controversial penalty against the Robby Gordon team. As he did throughout the show, Wallace did not mince words.

"I hope Robby Gordon gets off the hook to tell you the truth, he didn't do anything wrong. I think that every fan in America is pulling for Robby Gordon. He does not need to get the death penalty for a misdemeanor in my mind," said Wallace. "We need guys like that in our sport."

While Ryan Burr did a solid job hosting, and Jamie Little filed up-to-date reports from Phoenix, this show is going to be remembered for one thing. The fact that Rusty Wallace has found his footing at ESPN and is once again delivering the kind of direct and opinionated commentary that ESPN has wanted from him.

Maybe ESPN could pencil Rusty in on every Tuesday and let him address the topics remaining from the weekend and in the news. On this day, and for this thirty minutes, he was everything that the network always wanted him to be.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the directions. The rules for posting are on the right side of the main page. Thanks again for taking the time to stop by.


SophiaZ123 said...

I only caught this show in bits and pieces (liked the diagram of the inside wall) but I missed the good stuff!! Wallaces opines on the penalties. I am glad to hear he was fired off and giving real opinions since I feel the same way he does on the Robby Gordon issue!!

I will have to try and catch the repeat for the parts I missed.

I have to say after last season in the booth, ESPN has found a pair of shoes to fit Rusty and I am glad to see it.

Never thought I'd say that! HELLO, I never knew I would be tuning into NN but admit I thought I would hear about penalties today then read the R Gordon thing was going to meet tomorrow.

Thanks for filling in the blanks on this show. I know the Monday show is can't miss but I am happy to hear the Tuesday show was so good and I was glad to see Skinner interviewed, too.

Matt said...

That diagram that Rusty used to show us the difference between Vegas' inside wall and his at Iowa was terrific. It was simple, without any fancy animation or graphics. Pay attention TV networks: sometimes a Sharpie and cardboard are more useful than all the computer animation in Silicon Valley.

Anonymous said...

I was disappointed in the coverage of the loose oil tank covers.Five Nationwide teams were fined heavily at Daytona for the covers coming off. Just coincidence??? RWI's problem appears to be isolated,but I don't think the topic was covered thoroughly

Anonymous said...

Rusty's diagram was excellent. Now we see precisely how to build the wall opening to avoid the danger Gordon encountered at Vegas.

But can someone SHOW me this oil tank and explain how the cover can get loose and how it would be an advantage. I've heard talking heads speak about aero effect, etc., but I need some video or pics.

ri88girl said...

I throughly enjoyed the show. Rusty did a great job with the diagram and his strong opinions. I am not a Rusty fan, but he has interesting things to say and is very genuine to watch, a real plus for ESPN

I wanted to say it was great to see Jamie Little stick her head in the car as Jeff was explaining something to her. Ths is the kind of background work that will allow her to ask useful questions, so that if she has been relying on the guy in her ear she won't much longer. I find her delivery VERY effective and think she can do a great job once she applies herself. As a fan it is imperative to me that the reporter be as much of a fan as I am. I'm sure this is unfair to expect, but it seems in NASCAR TV it's impossible to succeed without it.

I have warmed to Ryan Burr although he still seems to wet behind the ears to be taken very seriously. I think ESPN has established itself as the place to go during the week for NASCAR. With a knock out Monday show it will be interesting to see if SPEED will go back to the original INC format to compete effectivly with this program. I think if they don't SPEED will lose the night to AB and NN.

Anonymous said...

ESPN is winning me back. Rusty was great yesterday. Started back watching with AB on Monday's, but decided to try the show yesterday, it was for the most part a good show. Rusty's outspoken comments kept me watching.

Anonymous said...

Why do the networks postion reporters like Jamie Little so close to the track that the cars drown out their comments and she can't hear when she is being asked a question?

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 9:25AM,

The only drawback of the program was that Jamie was not wearing a headset. That would have worked to eliminate a lot of the background noise.

This is called ambient noise, and the level of ambient noise at a location should determine the type of microphone used by the on-air talent.

You saw how the RaceDay crew switched to headsets because the wind created a problem in Las Vegas.

If you remember NASCAR Now from last season, I penned a column called "Shannon, can we hear you?" That documented exactly the same problem that Jamie had from Phoenix.

Before any liveshot goes on the air or is pre-recorded, the ESPN engineers do a "fax check" to make sure the technical specs are OK. Maybe the cars were not on the track at that time, but certainly something needs to be changed a bit for the future.

Great comment.


Anonymous said...

I am starting to enjoy this show, hope ESPN can keep up this type of quality. I am especially happy to see Rusty doing a very good job in this roll. I liked the strong opinion on Robbie Gordon. I especially liked the safety of the inside wall explanation. When he first started this and said he didn't explain things well, I said, here we go, Rusty's going to fall on his face. But the drawing and explanation was excellent. Now Jeff Hammond's description of the Safer barrier this weekend was just the opposite. Very disorganized, poorly done. He then pointed at the metal part of the wall and said it was Aluminum. I thought the Safer Barrier was a steel( STEEL AND FOAM ENERGY REDUCING) wall. Big difference between steel and aluminum. If the tracks are now in fact using aluminum instead of steel for the outer part of the wall,which I don't believe they are, he should have explained why. Rusty's piece was well prepared and Jeff's was not. This type of thing is easily correctable, ask Rusty he has done it.

Anonymous said...

Hi JD,
Although not a Rusty fan, it has been very nice these last few days. Yes, he does offer a very good insight. I hope it continues and I wish him well. There is nothing like "been there done that" with the candor he and Dale Jarrett give us.

Kingston, NY

Richard in N.C. said...

JD- I find Monday N-Now must see now. It is really fascinating how hiring just 2 people (DJ and Nicole M.), removing Erik K, and shuffling the people already involved with NASCAR on ESPN has turned things around so very, very much. ESPN's fine tuning really has been FINE.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but Rusty is an idiot. He doesn't agree with the penalty and saying how harsh it is? Saying there is no common sense in the ruling? Check your facts Rusty - every other COT infraction has resulted in this penalty. He looks like a complete idiot.

SophiaZ123 said...

Ok. Rusty is shocked at the penalty for Roush...frankly, I am shocked.

Didn't Waltrip get accused of cheating (YES I KNOW MESSING WITH FUEL is a huge deal) and fined similar points and dollars? YIKES.

NASCAR needs to get their penalty act together. Hope They address the Rusty G issue...hearing he got the penalties reduce but FINE upped from 100,000 to 150,ooo?

Marty Smith is confirming this.

WOW...Gordon should go to OW..NASCAR does not like this guy.

Anonymous said...

JD, Speaking of live shots and third party equipment, did you ever find out if the studio live shots in various cities use the facilities of local news stations or some other facility?

Anonymous said...

Sophia, the fine was raised but the points were given back. Marty and Rusty say R. Gordon should be happy with that.

Anonymous said...

Actually Sophia the penalty Carl got is the standard COT penalty. If you think back to last season you will remember the 24/48 fenders that actually fit the template but NASCAR didn't like the looks of them so they were fined 100 points, $100,000 and six week suspensions. Jr. got the same penalty for having the wrong bolts on his wing.

Many experst have said that having the oil cap off provides more downforce to the car and the windtunnel shows that.

As for Robby - his penalty was not right and according to what Marty just said the points fine has been taken away and just a monetary fine. Robby seemed okay with it and I'm okay with the penalty.

SophiaZ123 said...

Yes, I remember all the fines with COT being like this...also I wanted to say Robby seems happy so I am too.

but I am muddy on why the penalties were rescinded but the fine INCREASED?

But if that is like explaining the qualifying for the Daytona, never mind. :-)

I am happy if Robby is happy...that's all that matters!!

Dot said...

Last season I ragged on NN and Erik K. This season I just want to say, what an improvement. Rusty has found his niche. I loved his diagram.
JD, I'm glad you brought up the background noise issue. That was annoying. I didn't know that headsets made a difference. Evidently, neither does ESPN.

Anonymous said...

Good NASCAR Now today. All the breaking news and analysis just seemed to fall into place.

I interview was great. I believe the technical difficulties happened because a producer or someone else was talking to Marty. But a great show overall. JD, was this show really live or live-to-tape?

Anonymous said...
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SophiaZ123 said...


Who ever thunk we would be watching NN regularly...since SPEED has nothing on NASCAR during week (over saturates on sundays!!) thankfully we have ESPN to truly give us "breaking news' for once.

Good job. It was GREAT seeing Robby Gordon looking relieved and IN PERSON to talk on camera.

Great show!!!

See, since there is no Monday show to discuss the Sunday race anymore, it would behoove SPEED to put the new STEVER BYRNES SHOW midweek. They could at least cover the penalties that way. There is not even a midweek SPEED REPORT.

I liked seeing Rusty be honest about his feelings on the situation, too.

SophiaZ123 said...

p.s. regarding live diagrams..think of all the money they could've saved on draft tracker if they would've just given Rusty flourescent crayons to draw diagrams.

;-) We do not need HIGH TECH to get across down to earth concerns.

Newracefan said...

My sister is a hugh RW fan and I am finally able to understand why. Rusty has definately found his calling. His diagram was simple but I finally understood the how and why of JG's crash and trust me I have seen the replay ALOT.

Nascar Now on Wed was also done very well, there were some technical glitches but they dropped everything to talk about and then to Robbie Gordon (way to go Marty). I don't even have a problem with RW opinion about Carl's penalty, it's his opinion (by his own discription) and he's intitled to it (if we all agreed life would be boring). I was actually surprised on how high it was, this is not a COT infraction. I also think RG 100 points should have stood JR's penalty last year was a team mistake too they used the wrong bracket (oops my bad) there are some similarities (my dislike of RG may have some part in my thinking so I guess it's a good thing the review board is impartial). Opinions should be different, we don't need to agree just listen

Daly Planet Editor said...

There is a new post up for the Wednesday edition of NASCAR Now.


cjj1259 said...

I think Rusty did an awesome job and I look forward to more of the same from him. Rusty has never been shy about expressing his opinion, whether it be wrong or right, he says what he thinks.

Thank you for the recap.

Anonymous said...
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illogic said...

I'm sorry I missed this show, but it's good to hear about Rusty. He was such a great 'talker' in his driving days; the guy we heard in the commentator's booth in '07 was hardly recognizable. It sounds like he is starting to excel in his new roles. Good for him.